NEWS

Border Opening Plan

 How we will open safely, New COVID variant detected in NZ, more dangerous than Delta
02 Sep 2021 12:12
Border Opening Plan
Fiji Airways A330 taking off from Sydney enroute to Nadi. Photo airliners.net

With the possibil­ity of Government opening borders by November 1, the Ministry of Health and Medical Ser­vices has outlined plans to strengthen border control and quarantine surveil­lance.

This is to ensure that new and more dangerous COV­ID-19 variants including the C. 1.2 variant currently de­tected in New Zealand does not enter Fiji.

The focus, as re­vealed by Permanent Sec­retary for Health Dr James Fong, is to put together a reinforced border and quar­antine facility to coordinate and strengthen quarantine operations.

Fiji had managed to stay COVID contained for 365 days till a security lapse led to the outbreak of the Delta variant in the country.

Dr Fong revealed that a team would now be headed by Dr Sam Fullman.

Together with a smaller military and Police team they will provide the leader­ship needed to strengthen the country’s quarantine operations.

“A border health protection facility has been established in the CAAF compound in Namaka, Nadi. This facility will coordinate and oversee quarantine operations,” Dr Fong said.

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“We are also setting up a container laboratory in Namaka which has the ca­pacity to process around 500 tests per day.”

As part of additional measures to strengthen our quarantine operations, the Health Ministry will enforce the following measures:

Establishing a slot management system with Fiji Airways to put a cap on the quarantine capacity to more manageable levels.

Restricting international traveler entry to only fully vaccinated individuals (except in some emergency situations);

Requirement that all quarantine personnel engaged in quarantine operations are fully vaccinated.

CCTV support and oversight increased.

Dr Fong added the ministry would also try to create a no-blame environment where quarantine teams feel safe from discrimination for reporting any breaches or if feeling unwell.

“At the end of the day we can only work with lessons learned and improve,” he said.

“History has taught us many lessons, but the scale up required by this crisis has been phenomenal and we need to continue to adapt and learn as we respond.”

 

NEW C. 1.2 VARIANT

Dr Fong said the new variant detected in New Zealand was found within a quarantine population so there was no risk of community transmission yet. He said the ministry was still waiting on firmer scientific evidence to confirm the effectiveness of the AstraZeneca and Moderna vaccines on the new variant.

The New Zealand Herald had reported that the new COVID variant was first identified in South Africa with warnings that it was worse than Delta. It has also been detected in England, China, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Mauritius, Portugal, and Switzerland.

The Herald reported the case was detected at the New Zealand border whereby the carrier was taken straight into managed isolation minimizing the risk of community transmission. Dr Fong also confirmed the only variant identified in Fiji to date was the Delta variant.

 

Feedback: inoke.rabonu@fijisun.com.fj

 

 



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